Thursday, February 11, 2010

ODU in sole possession of CAA's top spot

Old Dominion is all by its lonesome in first place in the CAA. The Lady Monarchs secured the top spot in the league with a narrow defeat of Delaware, with VCU one game back after falling to Hofstra on Thursday. Drexel, 58-50 winners over Northeastern, shares second place with the Rams; both have 9-3 conference records.

Thursday's results

William and Mary 64, James Madison 56
First thing you need to know is Dawn Evans didn't play due to medical reasons. The JMU point guard missed one game earlier this season due to a kidney disorder, and we hope her absence has nothing to do with that. The second thing you need to know is Taysha Pye rang up a career-high 33 points to help W&M (10-11, 4-7 CAA) end a seven-game losing streak to the Dukes (18-5, 8-4 CAA). We've picked on the Tribe for free throws, but Pye drained 14-of-17, including 5 of her final 6 to secure the lead. JMU has won without Evans before, but losing her for the third time this season and second time in a week (Evans sat out most of last Thursday's victory over VCU with a sprained ankle) makes us wonder about her endurance for the CAA tournament.

Old Dominion 54, Delaware 52:

We'd like to pat ourselves on the back for predicting a two-point victory for the Lady Monarchs (12-10, 10-2), but that's not exactly rocket science. The Hens have five conference losses, and as we chronicled in our preview, two are in OT to Drexel, two are by one point and now another falls painfully short. Credit the Lady Monarchs defense for constantly disrupting the Hens' attempts to dribble the ball. Elena Delle Donne is their marquee player, but the Hens didn't get it to the 6-5 center/guard as often as they needed and she didn't have her regular touch on the perimeter, misfiring on 6 of her 8 3-point attempts. Still with 21 points, 10 boards and five blocks, Delle Donne didn't exactly have a disastrous night. While ODU's offense had some dreadful scoring lulls, it was nice to see Jasmine Parker rack up nine assists with crisp passing to Tia Lewis on the low block.

Hofstra 74, VCU 66
While much of the talk in the CAA has centered around ODU, VCU and Drexel, here's the kicker: Hofstra (14-10, 7-5 CAA) ain't bad. Not only does the Pride have a win over the Rams under its belt, they've also beaten James Madison and fell by just five to ODU in Norfolk. They have a balanced attack led by freshman Shante Evans, and while they might not get a high seed in the conference tournament, no team will want to see the Pride in its half of the bracket. VCU (16-8, 9-3) looked great routing ODU on Sunday, but got killed on the boards in this one and produced just six bench points to Hofstra's 26.

UNC Wilmington 51, George Mason 47:
Nice to see Brittany Poindexter healthy again to lead the Patriots (8-15, 1-11 CAA) with 15 points, but a buzzer beater by Whitney Simmons prevented GMU from scoring its first conference road victory. This was a very winnable game for GMU, but another anemic offensive effort cost them. The Patriots went to the line five times for three points, failing to take advantage of an uncharacteristic off night for the Seahawks from the stripe (13 of 22)

No. 21 Virginia 69, Miami 63 (OT): If this result seems familiar, it should; last season a Cavaliers team ranked 21st in the country also beat the Hurricanes in overtime. Monica Wright scored 24 points and hit game-tying and go-ahead shots late in regulation as the Cavaliers (18-6, 7-3 ACC)won their third straight and seventh in eight games. But it was Paulisha Kellum who saved the day in the extra period as she scored 10 of her 14 points in those final five minutes. It wasn't pretty, and 34-percent shooting and 22 turnovers are often the stats of a loser. That the Cavaliers could prevail anyway, particularly on the road, suggests a resilience and fortitude that should serve them well in what is shaping up as an anything-is-possible ACC stretch run.

Virginia Tech 68, Savannah State 41: The Hokies (13-11) shot 18 percent and trailed by two at halftime before blistering the nets at a 70-percent clip after intermission and restoring this game's natural order. Said Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger of her halftime speech: "We talked about defensive intensity, but more than anything we talked about getting on the same page and actually running an offense and making their defense work a little bit." OK, Beth. But we suspect that's not exactly how you said it.

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